Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Basava and the dots of fire

Basava and the Dots of Fire

by Radhika Chadha
Illustrations by Bhakti Phatak

Ages : 3-6

When my Mom was to come from India, one of the top items on my list for her was books for my son. I scoured the Tulika website for age appropriate Indian books, and emailed the shortlisted titles across to my father, who hit Landmark and procured as many as he could find.

Basava and the dots of fire is one of them, that both me and my son enjoyed exceedingly. The story is a simple engaging one of a little boy from a remote village in India, who lives with his mother at the edge of a forest. Everyday, he makes a trip into the forest to collect firewood to help his mother cook food and keep them warm. And everyday, he returns home before sunset, head laden with firewood, back to the safety of his mother's arms.

One day Basava leaves home a little later than usual. And some unexpected incidents take place that test his character and presence of mind. As a result, he does not manage to make it out of the forest before sunset and gets lost. A little boy, all alone in the deep dark forest with no one to help!!! How does he manage? What does he do? What are those incidents that took place? Will he make it back home? What are the dots of fire? How are they related to the story? All these and more will run in your mind, and you can't wait to turn to the next page to find out.

The story is written by Radhika Chadha who in between consulting in innovation & strategy and tending to her bonsai plants, also manages to dream up stories for her son. This is the second book she has written with Tulika. And she has come up with a real page turner.

The illustrations are by Bhakti Phatak, who I believe is a PG student at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and this book was part of her summer internship with Tulika. Now I really appreciated the fact that Tulika affords opportunities to upcoming illustrators and young talents. She has illustrated the cover beautifully. Its in a shade of blue which I can only think of as midnight blue. And the illustrations inside, though a little brooding, are still very beautiful. She has the ability to show a lot of detail with just a few strokes.

Some of the other things that rise from this book is the fact that Basava is unlike any child we would normally read about. For one, he is not a regular school-goer and has to collect firewood everyday to help to make the livelihood. Its a good opportunity to present to your child that there are also children in the world that lead a different kind of life. Also, I was quite taken with the resourcefulness with which he dealt with those said incidents in the forest. And finally discovering what the dots of fire represented was a beautiful finale to this simple story.

Read it and see what you think!


ranjani.sathish said...

Hi Tharini
A very interesting book review ! I will try to get hold of this book in the library or when I visit Landmark next. I really like such children's books where certain hard facts of life are also presented to the child. It gives us parents an opportunity to bring up related discussions.

sathish said...

tharini, nice review.
I have been going through tulika books for a long; but, have somehow missed out this one..

I usually get mislead by the illustrations :)

Thanks for this pointer.

Praba Ram said...

Hmmm...The title is pretty intriguing - dots of fire? hmmm...I see something on the picture..Can it be fireflies? Or is it the stars lighting up something that he recognizes in the dark - has to be something glowing in the dark that he uses as a sign to lead him back home...
Well, I am going to pose this question to K and see what answers I get... Your reviews are indeed full of suspense...Lovely choice! Will try and get hold of these Tulika books online, may be..

Praba Ram said...

"a good opportunity to present to your child that there are also children in the world that lead a different kind of life" -

I think that's a real neat point..and the point on "resourcefulness" even though the kid does not go to school...Sad irony that kids like Basava who miss out on books and schools actually end up teaching our kids valuable life lessons through their stories..Kids like Basava are natural learners!

Tharini said...

Thanks Ranjani, Sathish an Praba.

Praba, I like the way your mind works. :) Let's see what K says!

Purvi said...

Dear Praba,

Hi. You are right there are many kids like Basava who may have never goen to school. There are even more number of kids who go to govt schools but never end up learning anything bec of lack of good reading material. I work for an NGO called Pratham Books and we publish beautiful [even if i may say so myself] children's storybooks in eng and 9 indian languages. While never compromising on the quality we have managed to keep the cost of our books under Rs.25. Do visit out site Let me know what you think.

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